Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Johnno loves England too much to see them keep losing



Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst discovered that winning a World Cup as a player is no guarantee of success as a manager and Martin Johnson is beginning to feel the heat after a torrid first year at Twickenham.

His appointment as England “manager” was always going to be a risk, and one that he publicly accepted. Despite having absolutely no coaching experience Johnson was held in such high esteem by everyone in the game that it was felt by the RFU that his very presence would bring stability to the team.

The idea was that “Jonnho” would act as some sort of facilitator, and, as Clive Woodward did during England’s most successful period ever, leave the coaching to others.

Former head coach Brian Ashton, sacked after reaching the World Cup final and achieving England’s best Six Nations performance for five years, will no doubt be looking on and wondering just what progress has been made.

All Blacks arrive without the aura


allblacksRoughly once a decade throughout the 20th century, a group of South Seas islanders in the guise of the New Zealand All Blacks would invade Europe to teach the old world the ways of the new.

There were reverses, notably at the hands of Wales in 1905, 1935 and 1953, three of the first four games between the two small rugby-mad nations. But the win-loss ratio remained overwhelmingly in favour of the All Blacks, whose distinctive all-black uniform and pre-match haka (Maori war dance) enhanced their special aura.